Rome, Italy

Author: Fr. Francis Vincent Oliva Gustilo, SDB
Title: Towards the Inculturation of the Salesian Family Spirit in the Filipino Context
Adviser: Fr. Mario Midali, SDB, SThD
Degree: Doctorate in Sacred Theology
Specialization: Salesian Spirituality
Year: 1989


Towards an inculturation of a spiritual charism is the process by which an indigenous member of a religious institute takes the initial steps to situate, describe, analyze, and compare the Gospel values of the said religious institute with the set of core values of his people. This thesis paper attempts to indicate the tangential points between the Salesian Charism and its characteristic Gospel value, the Family Spirit, with the Filipino cultural value of strong family ties. It describes the Filipino core value of kapwa, the pivotal value of pakikiramdam, expressed in its manifest values of pakikisama, hiya and utang-na-loob together with its resultant emerging Filipino profile of interpersonal relationship value-system. This is compared vis-a-vis the legacy of St. John Bosco to the members of his Congregation which is described as the Salesian Family Spirit, a network of interpersonal relationships resulting in an environment best suited for educating the young (ministry) and for living in common (fraternity).

That there are many tangential points of encounter between the two value systems, namely the Filipino and the Salesian, from the anthropological point-of-view, is made very evident. The emphasis on the sense of common humanity (pagkatao) in the Filipino culture is found similarly in the importance St. John Bosco placed in building up an ambiance of mutuality, reciprocity, approachableness, kindness, and humaneness to foment trust and confidence between educator and student. However, from the ecclesiological point-of-view, it was noted that the Filipino sense of belonging and common humanity lay primarily on blood kinship. This may stand as an obstacle that needs to be overcome so that the Salesian value of the family-spirit environment may remain inclusive rather than exclusive. The Salesian sense of belonging stems from the Gospel value of communion of persons (found in the Trinitarian life itself) born from the gift of faith and expressed in genuine charity (i.e. the basis of being members of the Body of Christ, the Church). For this reason, the process of inculturation necessitates a true and proper evangelization of the Filipino cultural value-system of family interpersonal relationships, moving away from the exclusivity of kami and kita and opening towards the inclusivity of tayo. The window of inculturation comes in the form of widening the horizons of relationships as it already happens in Filipino relationships through the Church’s sacraments (baptism, confirmation, and marriage) where the non-relative becomes now-kin through the terms of ninong-inaanak extended kinship and where the ninong’s children become the godson’s kinakapatid. Thus, this thesis desires that the Salesians optimize their Rite of Profession of the Vows in a manner where the Filipino Salesians come to recognize that their sense of belonging with the young and among themselves lies from a shared faith in the Catholic Church, over and above a shared humanity, resulting from blood kinship alone.

Fr. Gustilo completed his Doctorate in Sacred Theology, specializing in Salesian Spirituality, in the Universita Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, Italy in 1989. A former Provincial Superior of the Philippine North Province of St. John Bosco (FIN), he also served as a member of the International Theological Commission (ITC) for its eighth quinquennium (2009-2014). Currently, he is Lantayan Editor & Head of Publications, the Vice-Dean of the Institute of Salesian Studies and Spirituality, and resident professor.
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